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ANGP gets exclusive license to UTRC technology for conformable natural gas vehicle storage tanks

Adsorbed Natural Gas Products (ANGP) announced an exclusive licensing agreement with United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) allowing ANGP to use UTRC’s patent-pending technology—developed with support from DOE’s ARPA-E (earlier post)—to develop and produce the first commercially viable conformable adsorbent-based low pressure natural gas (ANG) storage tank for motor vehicles.

The license applies to non-metal composite tanks containing activated carbon adsorbents at operating pressures of up to 1,000 psi.

Natural gas vehicle adoption has been hampered in part by the bulky cylindrical tanks required to house the pressurized fuel; the tanks add weight and reduce storage space in a passenger car or light-duty truck.

ANGP has addressed this barrier by using an adsorbent material (activated carbon) capable of storing large quantities of gas at a far lower pressure (<1,000 psi) than the 3,600 psi typically used for compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders.

The lower pressure makes natural gas filling stations more cost-effective because the amount of compression required is much less than that required for conventional CNG tanks. This translates into smaller pumping equipment, resulting in lower capital and operating costs. When combined with UTRC’s innovative conformable tank design, the resultant product allows us to reduce weight, increase storage space, and improve fuel efficiency.

—Bob Bonelli, ANGP co-founder and CEO

UTRC began developing its conformable CNG tank in 2012 under the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE) program.

The UTRC conformable modular storage tank can integrate into the tight spaces in the undercarriage of natural gas-powered vehicles. The modular natural gas storage units can be assembled to form a wide range of shapes and fit a wide range of undercarriages. UTRC’s modular tank could substantially improve upon the conformability level of existing technologies at a cost of approximately $1,500, considerably less than today’s tanks.

UTRC’s objective under this program was to develop a conformable modular tank concept based on topology-optimized structures, and state-of-the-art materials and manufacturing technologies. We are eager to transition our successful technology advancements under the MOVE program into a commercial product and anticipate working closely with ANGP in 2016 and beyond as it builds the market for ANG vehicles.

—Dr. David Parekh, corporate vice president, Research, and director, UTRC

UTRC’s conformable tank provides 30% more storage capacity than multiple cylinders occupying the same envelope, said Bonelli. The design is optimal for lower pressure ANG applications, enabling thinner tank walls and resulting lower material costs.

As the innovation hub of United Technologies Corp. (UTC), United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) supports the development of new technologies and capabilities across the company and collaborates with external research organizations, universities and government agencies globally to push the boundaries of science and technology.

UTRC is headquartered in East Hartford, Connecticut, with additional operations at its affiliate in Berkeley, California. UTRC subsidiaries also carry out research and development work in Shanghai, China; Rome, Italy; and Cork, Ireland. UTC, based in Farmington, Connecticut, provides high-technology systems and services to the building and aerospace industries.


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